The Collaborative Key to Civic Innovation

April 5, 2024

busy city intersection from above

New technologies in the public realm often promise to revolutionize government. From smart sensors to blockchain technology and the current dialogue about Artificial Intelligence – these tools offer big promises about the potential of the interconnected, digital age in government. While those technologies can play a role in changing how government operates, none will fulfill those promises on their own. The less flashy and arguably more important aspect to successful civic innovation is how well a government can collaborate, learn, and adapt to changing circumstances.

While every government entity has adopted new technologies over the years, these changes are often made in a silo. It’s rare to see public agencies collaborate with other local governments in evaluating digital tools or learning from each other about their implementation. That’s why the Open Mobility Foundation’s SMART Curb Collaborative is an exciting innovation in itself. 


The OMF’s SMART Curb Collaborative, originally a group of eight local governments, is now comprised of ten members that each received funding from the USDOT’s SMART Grant program to implement pilot projects on curb management technology. Members include: Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Miami-Dade County, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Buffalo and Boston.

The Collaborative model, built into each of these cities’ SMART Grant applications, recognizes that better public sector technology implementation is made possible by cities having the space and resources to candidly share their experiences with one another. As the SMART Curb Collaborative projects get started, the Collaborative member cities have already started to benefit from the space created by this shared, open approach. Rather than solely relying on vendors or under-resourced internal staff capacity, members of the Collaborative can now look to peer cities to learn about vendor selections, adopt RFP language, and evaluate their projects as a whole. 


The benefits of the Collaborative model extend beyond the impact of any one city’s project. The SMART Curb Collaborative itself will produce and share its learnings, making resources open and adaptable for any city looking to start a curb digitization project by the end of the year.

Knowledge Sharing

New tech comes with a host of challenges specific to local government. Each phase of this pilot initiative will present project teams with specific challenges and opportunities to learn from one another, from procurement to technology deployment and community engagement. Already, the cities have learned valuable lessons about shared procurement. By the end of the pilot, the SMART Curb Collaborative will publish a set of resources, including an open source playbook that can be used by any local government looking to digitize their curb.

Open Source Standards

A central component of each SMART Curb Collaborative project is that each project will utilize the Curb Data Specification (CDS), created and stewarded by the OMF. CDS is an open source common language that allows cities to more easily work with vendors, curb users like delivery companies, and residents alike to unlock new insights about curb usage and pave the way for greater accessibility and efficiency on our streets. Throughout the SMART Curb Collaborative, the implementation of CDS in each curb pilot will enable the OMF to improve and release a new version of CDS for public use.


The OMF Collaborative will continue sharing lessons from these pilot projects over the next 12 months as the cities begin implementing their curb digitization efforts. Soon, any city that hopes to implement modern curb management technologies will have a wealth of information and lessons they can incorporate into their own projects. Follow along with the SMART Curb Collaborative work with the OMF on LinkedIn and through our email list

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